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Monthly Archives: June 2015

For years, there was little debate about the need for open houses in town: almost without exception, unless the seller of one of our listings objected, at least one or two open houses were an accepted part of how most real estate agents went about marketing the property.

Today, along with all the other changes that define modern real estate marketing, the potency of open houses is up for serious debate. Virtual online tours are increasingly popular among area real estate sellers and buyers—the ‘use’ statistics that tell agents how often the different parts of their sites are viewed prove that. Since open houses were formerly held in order to display a property to members of the general public—and since virtual tours do the same thing—it’s truly a question that deserves a hard look.

Here are three of the main reasons I see frequently cited for why open houses are still useful—and some both pros and cons for each:

  1. Open Houses Can Bring Higher Prices

Pro: Open houses are most important for high demand properties when there is low inventory for similar homes. It can be possible to stage open houses in combination with delayed offer reviews—in this scenario, the seller hosts several open houses leading up to a final date when he or she will review competing offers.

Con: The same is accomplished with well-produced virtual tours. Interested viewers then contact the agent, who is able to qualify the prospects who will be invited for an actual on-site showing. Competing offers are just as likely to develop.

  1. Open Houses Are More Convenient for Sellers

Pro: People want to sell their Naperville area homes as quickly as possible if for no other reason than they must keep their houses spotless and organized while on the market. Open houses are one way for sellers to have to prepare fewer times for their home to be displayed to buyers.

Con: Virtual tours accomplish the same thing for a far broader cross-section of the public. Professional photographers use their photo session to record the property at its spotless best, which is then on display 24/7/365—not just for one or two days!

  1. Open Houses are More Convenient for Prospective Buyers

Pro: Interested parties can pop in for an on-site tour without the hassle of contacting the agent and scheduling an appointment—basically, of making even a minor level of commitment in advance of knowing much about the property. Open houses thus broaden the property’s exposure.

Con: Serious home shoppers are going online en masse; the effort expended on an open house is better spent preparing for interested, qualified buyers.

Every home we have for sale presents uniquely individual marketing opportunities and challenges. Ruling out open houses (or ruling them in) as a one-size-fits-all solution is not the way I expand the reach and appeal of the properties I represent. To talk about how we can maximize your own area real estate opportunity, just give me a call!    BTW…I just sold a house at my last “Open” on Sunday!

Putting together a listing in Naperville is serious business. It has to be brief, to-the-point, and at the same time, engaging. The photos and language of our listings is the tip of the marketing spear: if it’s dull, and just a repetition of the specifics that are enumerated in the columns of numbers that follow, it’s less likely to get more than a glance from potential buyers.

At the same time, every one of our listings has to be fastidiously accurate. If it exaggerates or mischaracterizes a property’s features, it will waste time and effort by creating traffic from prospects who were never going to be interested in the first place. They’ll be rightly annoyed. A well-crafted listing for a Naperville home will highlight the distinctive features that make it stand out from the crowd. It will attract qualified buyers who will want to investigate further.

As a matter of course, we in the real estate profession check out lots of listings from many other areas. It’s part of the job, keeping abreast of what is new elsewhere—comparing how others in other areas meet the challenges of language and imagery. Of course, after years of experience, you encounter few surprises.

But last week there was news of a listing unlike any other. I’m not sure that the details and language are going to be useful for describing our properties, since this detailed a foreign estate (on the Côte d’Azur) being put on the market by “a talented artist and musician.” The asking price is $33+ million, so it’s also a bit pricey for most buyers. But as an attention-getter, this listing ranks right up there at the top.

First off, the talented artist and musician is Johnny Depp, whose comings and goings generate headlines at all times. The listing language, in fact, is most precisely quoted by the Australian Domain real estate site—rather than a French source. The Australian public has been keeping track of Depp because of his continuing brush with authorities there over alleged dog-smuggling activities (his Yorkies, Pistol and Boo, are now safely out of the country). Domain tells us that the estate consists of “more than a dozen buildings, including a main house, several guest cottages, a chapel, a bar & restaurant, a workshop/garage, a staff house and much more.

Students of listing lingo might decide that this descriptor belongs in the ‘subtly understated’ category, particularly when the “much more” is teased out: the estate, it turns out, is actually a small Provençal village. More than a decade ago, Depp bought an entire early-19th-century village. It may have been a bit run down—but it did include its own church (the actor turned it into a guest cottage, with the confessional becoming a wardrobe). Depp took on the project as a sort of extreme DIY project. The restaurant became his dining room. He brought in a covered wagon for another guesthouse (it’s unclear how that worked out).

Not every local listing rates being quoted in a feature story in The Wall Street Journal, but this one surely did. “A wine cave in the main house has a Pirates of the Caribbean motif,” according to the Journal (as one reader commented, “Go get’m Sparrow!”).

You don’t have to have a French village, though, if you are thinking of adding your own estate to this summer’s local listings. Just give me a call!

People often ask whether they should buy a home now or wait. Recently released data suggests that waiting may not make sense as prices seem to again be on the rise. Let’s take a look at some of the data and commentary on the subject:

Ed Stansfield, chief property economist at Capital Economics:
“The current tightness of supply conditions would normally be consistent with much faster price growth. The continued steady growth in home sales that we expect this year will only add to this upward pressure on prices.”

Case Shiller Home Price Index
“The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.1% annual gain in March 2015 … with a 0.8% increase for the month.”

Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic
“All signs are pointing toward continued price appreciation throughout 2015… Tight inventories, job growth and the impact of demographics and household formation are pushing price levels in many states toward record levels.”

Danielle Hale, Director of Housing Statistics at NAR
“Even without further acceleration, the pace of price growth remains too high. Strong buyer demand and low inventories coupled with relatively low new construction are helping to push prices up, keeping the housing market tipped in favor of sellers.”

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis
“The first quarter saw strong and widespread home price growth throughout most of the country. Home prices are now, on average, roughly 20 percent above where they were three years ago. This run-up has been historically exceptional and is particularly notable in light of the limited household income growth and modest rate of overall inflation observed during that same time period.”

Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home in the near future, waiting probably doesn’t make sense from a purely pricing standpoint.